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New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 3, Episode 13 (“Antipas”)

Last year, I was thrilled to spend a lot of time on The Time is Now discussing the second season of Millennium. Since the podcast has moved on to the third season, I have taken something of a step back as a guest. That said, I was flattered to get an invitation to discuss Antipas with guest host Tony Black.

Antipas is an interesting piece of television. It’s effectively a grabbag of the familiar horror movie tropes and clichés that writers Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz love: it’s The OmenDon’t Look Now, The Shining and a few others. It’s effectively a gigantic homage to the huge influences on Carter’s work with both Millennium and The X-Files, even if it doesn’t exactly cohere as a story in its own right.

As ever, you can listen directly to the episode here, subscribe to the podcast here, or click the link below.

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Non-Review Review: Hereditary

Perhaps what is most striking about Hereditary is how all the comparisons to The Exorcist seem off base.

To be fair, every movie deserves to be judged on its own terms unless it expressly demands otherwise, whether through a preexisting relationship or an inviting homage. Nevertheless, The Exorcist has been a touchstone for Hereditary in the run-up to the film’s release, a critical cliché employed to underscore just how effective Hereditary is. Rolling Stone has pitched the film as “this generation’s The Exorcist.” TimeOut described it as “a new generation’s The Exorcist.” Titlemag acknowledged the use of such critical shorthand.

Something to chew over.

It’s easy to see why this comparison has been made. The Exorcist is public short-hand for scary, a famously controversial film that shocked audiences upon release and which many members of the current generation first heard discussed in hushed tones. More than that, there’s significant thematic overlaps between Hereditary and The Exorcist, with both films serving as unsettling explorations of a tightly-knit family dynamic that use supernatural horror as prism through which these dynamics might be interrogated.

However, there is a major tonal difference between Hereditary and The Exorcist. In many ways, The Exorcist represents a very broad and populist strand of seventies horror, with an accessible central narrative that plays off easily understood fears in a very direct manner. The Exorcist was a cultural phenomenon, earning almost two hundred million dollars at the United States box office on initial release, and becoming a touchstone for an entire generation of horror fans. It is a movie that has inspired parodies and references, which can be used casually as shorthand with non-cinephile audiences.

Putting the ‘fun’ in ‘funeral.’

Hereditary is a very different sort of beast. Hereditary is not a descendant of that sort of broad crowd-pleasing horror spectacle. The narrative is dense and layer, its symbolism abstract and its storytelling often allegorical. Hereditary is full of ambiguities and lacunas, with tension simmering beneath the surface before exploding dramatically towards the climax. If Hereditary is a descendant of sixties and seventies horrors, it is a closer relation of more abstract nightmares like Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now or Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby.

This is perhaps the most interesting thing about the film, and one which perhaps goes a long way towards explaining some of the more contradictory aspects of its theatrical release.

Do look now.

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The Horror! The Horror!

This weekend sees the release of the only two original (i.e. not a sequel, prequel or spin-off) major releases this May. For the kids – both young and old – we have the newest Pixar film, which is steadily becoming one of the highlights of the movie year. The other film – while firmly awaited by horror aficionados – has snuck up on the rest of us, generating great buzz from preview screenings. Drag Me To Hell is apparently the best horror film in quite some time, and one I am now hotly anticipating, but it got me thinking – whatever happened to the horror genre?

Bruce Campbell just isn't trying any more

Bruce Campbell just isn't trying any more

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